New state troopers jump right into action

By Kevin Beese Staff Reporter

New Illinois State Police troopers (from left) Timothy Kuchynka, Matthew Giamanco, Blake Kerzich and Sean Martinez stand in front of the District 5 headquarters. On their first day of orientation, the four assisted in the apprehension of a vehicle hijacking suspect. The suspect is a Chicago man who had been serving a six-year prison term for a McLean County burglary before being paroled. (ISP photo)

Four new Illinois State Police troopers wasted little time in making an impact on the job.

Newly commissioned Troopers Matthew Giamanco, Blake Kerzich, Timothy Kuchynka and Sean Martinez played a role in the apprehension of a Chicago man suspected of a vehicle hijacking on their first day of orientation.

That Chicago man, Wanyae Massey, is charged with aggravated vehicular hijacking for allegedly taking a good Samaritan’s car at an accident scene.

At 7:18 a.m. May 4, State Police troopers responded to the scene of a two-unit personal injury crash on northbound Interstate 55 south of Gorman Road. Troopers learned that after the crash involving a passenger vehicle and a truck tractor semi-trailer, a vehicle, occupied by two males, stopped to assist after witnessing the crash. State Police said the driver of the crashed passenger vehicle, later identified as Massey, then displayed a firearm and took control of the vehicle that had stopped to assist, before fleeing the scene.

It was at this time, State Police Dist. 5 Lt. David Keltner, who was conducting the first day orientation for the newly commissioned troopers, was advised of the ongoing situation. ISP troopers working the incident located the stolen vehicle traveling on northbound Interstate 55 south of Arsenal Road and attempted to conduct a traffic stop. After Massey refused to stop, a pursuit ensued, State Police said.

The pursuit ended after the vehicle crashed at Blodgett Avenue and County Line Road in Wilmington. Immediately after the crash, Massey fled the scene on foot, according to State Police. Due to the coordinated efforts of all officers and telecommunication dispatchers, everyone involved was continually updated of the ongoing situation and location information, State Police said. Lieutenant Keltner and the new troopers, along with other veteran troopers, responded to the Harbor Side Marina. A short time later, and with the assistance of the new troopers, Massey was taken into custody at the marina, according to State Police. During the investigation, two firearms were recovered. The driver of the semi-trailer was transported to a local hospital for minor injuries sustained in the crash.  The occupants of the stolen vehicle did not sustain any injuries. Massey did not require any medical attention, State Police said.

On May 4, the Grundy County State’s Attorney’s Office approved charges of aggravated vehicular hijacking with a firearm, aggravated vehicular hijacking-victim under 16, unlawful use/possession of weapon by a felon, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, and leaving the scene of a personal injury crash against Massey. The Chicago man was held at Grundy County Jail awaiting a bond hearing. On May 5, the court set Massey’s bond at $1 million. Massey remains in custody at the Grundy County Jail.

Massey was paroled April 2 from Menard Correctional Center. Information from the Illinois Department of Corrections does not say why Massey was paroled early, but the state has paroled many individuals early and provided additional good time to detainees in the wake of coronavirus concerns.

The Chicago man was serving a six-year term for a McLean County residential burglary, having been sentenced in October 2017. He was also serving a concurrent three-year term for theft and aggravated fleeing police, related to the same McLean County incident.

“The country and the state have been forced to adapt during an unprecedented pandemic, why should their first day in their new district be anything but unprecedented?” said Keltner. “Their oath to protect and serve began with an unorthodox, socially distanced, commission ceremony, limited in attendance, while wearing personal protective equipment and continued through to their first day, where they were called to action and successfully assisted in the apprehension of a suspect.”

“I would like to acknowledge and thank our new District 5 troopers for their quick call to action and outstanding service,” said District 5 Commander Capt. David Schneider. “Good luck to our new District 5 troopers and to the entire Cadet Class 130 on their assignments. From day one and throughout their career, they are and will always be Illinois State troopers who are proving to be dedicated to the (State Police) motto of ‘Integrity, Service, and Pride.’”